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Christians In Early And Classical Shī‘ī Law

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Chapter Summary

Most Western research into Islamic law governing Christians and other non-Muslims focuses on Sunni sources. This essay focuses primarily on legal texts from the Imami community, the largest of the Shīʿī groups. Laws that treat Christians and other non-Muslims as dhimmīs may be classified as 'imposed' laws: they place obligations and restrictions upon non-Muslims. Implicit in the equation of Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, however, is an important underlying distinction between Sunnī and Shīʿī systems of classifying non-Muslims. Sunnī authorities consistently distinguish between Scripturists and other non-Muslims with respect to animal slaughter, in keeping with the qurʾanic dictum, 'the food of those who were given the Book is permitted to you'. In the course of his discussion about Jewish and Christian meat, al-Mufīd takes the opportunity to condemn Sunnīs for their refusal to acknowledge that such meat is prohibited.

Keywords: al-Mufid; Christians; classical Shii law; dhimmis; Imami; Islamic law; Jews; Muslim; Sunni; Zoroastrians



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